It's the twelfth day of the Luke challenge and we are already halfway into this journey and it has been a journey of transformation occasioned by new lights been shed on the word of God! I have a deep affinity for God's word but in the last 12 days or so that affinity has been taking to new heights as I attempt to read the Luke gospel all over again. David said, "Oh I how to love thy word, it is my meditation all day" (Psalm 119:97). This has been my experience the past 12 days, more than ever my eyes and my thoughts have been all set on the word!
The details that the Luke gospel covers make it so hard to just look through it, and that's why this cannot be considered a detailed study of the book. It's the reason why in studying each chapter we only attempt to focus on two to three things that the chapter address. And here in Luke 12, we will do the same again, however, we will focus on just one. There are a lot of issues the master addressed here and starting from verse 1 he began on the issue of HYPOCRISY and this is what we will focus on today!
Straight away from the first verse in Luke 12, Jesus in no unmistakable terms fires this warning at his disciples:
"In the meantime, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples, first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the household"
Luke 12:1-3 KJV
It appears Jesus was not yet done with the Pharisees and Sadducees, for at the close of the last chapter in Luke 11 Jesus declared all kinds of woes upon them and then proceeded here to warn the disciples about taking the leaven of the Pharisees which is HYPOCRISY! In the new testament the word hypocrites or hypocrisy appeared twenty times and most of the time it was mentioned it was the master that used the word to speak of the Pharisees and Sadducees. And someone has said that there is a saduccee or pharisee in every one of us! And if there is anything that the church of today or the church generally has been accused of more than any other is that of HYPOCRISY. Many have argued and asked, 'How can I become a Christian when there are so many hypocritical Christian?'. That leads us into trying to define what hypocrisy is.
WHAT IS HYPOCRISY?
This demeaning question of "how can I become a Christian when there are so many hypocritical Christians" seems to stem from one of the definitions of Christ on hypocrisy in Matthew 7:5,
"Thou hypocrite first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye"
Hypocrisy from this definition is criticizing others of things we ourselves are guilty of on a greater scale! And who else does the world accuse of this if not we Christians! We are always told to practice what we preach! If you look in Matthew 23 where Jesus talked extensively about hypocrisy one of the central themes here was that of not practicing what you preach!
"Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for people to see..."(Matthew 23:1-2NIV)
The Pharisees were accused of not practicing what they preach! The question arising from this text is how many of us do really practice what we preach? If it's just by this definition alone then all of us are hypocrites or have been hypocritical at one time or the other! However, the definition of hypocrisy goes beyond here as we will see later. But it's good to point out that it's not Christ-followers that validates Christ and our faith, Christ all by himself validates Himself and must be the only reason why we want to follow him.
A wise man wrote this: "Christianity does not stand or fall on the way Christians have acted throughout history or are acting today. Christianity stands or falls on the person of Jesus, and Jesus was not a hypocrite. He lived consistently with what He taught, and at the end of His life, He challenged those who had lived with Him night and day, for over three years, to point out any hypocrisy in Him. His disciples were silent because there was none. Since Christianity depends on Jesus, it is incorrect to try to invalidate the Christian faith by pointing to horrible things done in the name of Christianity"
This word apply not only to unbelievers but to even believers who day and night are trying to invalidate our faith because of what one spiritual leader does or didn't do somewhere! Our faith must follow and must be based only on the person of Jesus, he is the only one free of hypocrisy!
Let's define hypocrisy further.
Hypocrisy is “claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.” In fact, the ancient Greek word comes from the word for a stage actor or one who wears a mask. It is not necessarily the fact that the sin that makes them a hypocrite, it’s the fact that they don’t acknowledge it. They don’t admit that their lives contradict what they say. They are inauthentic and imposters'.This is what hypocrisy really is!
The Bible says all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God(Romans 6:23). So fallen short of the standard of what we believe and profess then is hypocrisy? Not necessarily. Hypocrisy arises when we sin and we don't acknowledge our sin, so outwardly we pose righteous while inwardly we are rotten! This was what the master further went on to press about in Matthew 23. Immediately after the first two verses, Jesus presses on to explain more and then in verse 25 he said
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess"
Hypocrisy is the pontification of righteousness whereas there is inward rottenness! It arises not when we sin and repent of our sins, no! It is when we sin and still go on about our normal lives as if we didn't sin, in this case, we put up that holy appearance among the saints and in the world that we are men of virtue while inwardly we are men rotten to the core!
There are a lot of scriptures including the one in Luke here that addresses hypocrisy and from them, the various characteristics of hypocrisy can be deducted
1)Hypocrisy is conformity to the values and expectations of someone else. This characteristic is not immediately apparent, but it is obvious after a little reflection. We are hypocritical because of some other person’s values. Hypocrisy is bowing to the idol of other people’s values, which are not really our own. Hypocrisy is dying our hair green if the group we are a part of has defined spirituality as having green hair, knowing in our hearts that green hair has nothing to do with godliness. Hypocrites adjust and accommodate their appearance to what people think or feel.
2) Hypocrisy manifests itself in inconsistencies! The hypocrite is never consistent. It moves with whatever moves and stays with whatever stay. Because the goal of the hypocrites like Jesus pointed out is to look good before men, to be approved or to be praise.
3) Hypocrites stand for everything that makes them gain approval in the sight of others or avoid persecution from them.
4) Hypocrisy is a deliberate deception. Hypocrisy is deliberately appearing to be what we are not. It is not accidental, but purposeful. Hypocrisy is a charade. Appearance does not match reality, deliberately so. Or why would a believer having sin fails to repent of his sin and still carry himself about as if nothing happens! Why will one want to pontificate righteousness? It's not accidental but deliberate.
5) Hypocrisy is a sin not acknowledged
6)Hypocrisy is a deliberate deception, with either a positive or negative motivation. Generally speaking, we are hypocritical either to achieve men’s praise or to avoid their persecution. In the case of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the former is what applies, they are hypocritical because they want to look good in the eyes of all men. But there is another type of hypocrisy that is motivated because we want to avoid the persecution of others and that is what many believers are facing today.
THE BELIEVERS' HYPOCRISY
It is because of this kind of hypocrisy that Jesus talked to the disciples about in Luke 12:1 this is the hypocrisy that wants us to compromise our values in the world and not stand up for our Christian values!
Believers will hide their faith, playing the role of a secular modern in order to win approval. Some will act deceitfully to please a boss, others will gossip or engage in any number of sinful behaviors to ingratiate themselves to a group. These believers' hypocrisy is undermining the power of the truth that has been given to us! But like Jesus pointed out there is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed and this is much true as concerning God's word that has been given to us our hypocrisy may want us to hide the power of the gospel, but eventually the light of the gospel will shine through. This is why Jesus related his talk on hypocrisy to revealing the truth of God's word.
"For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the household." (Luke 12:2-3)
Not standing up for the gospel of Jesus Christ, not speaking up for our faith and values that we believe in is hypocrisy because we avoid proclaiming the truth because we want to avoid the persecution of men. We keep silent in hostile territories because we don't want hostile treatment. So we blend into the group, we tell ourselves "when we are in Rome you must behave like the Romans". So we keep silent, blend in and keep silent the truth in us. We are not created to blend into our environments we are meant to be light shining into the darkness of our world. May grace to stand out and shine the light come upon everyone reading this. Amen.